Type 1 Diabetes is known by many names – juvenile diabetes, T1D, T1DM, or IDDM – but regardless of what name it has, being diagnosed is still frightening. As many as three million Americans struggle every day and are praying for a cure for their type 1 diabetes.
What does type 1 diabetes mean?
Type 1 diabetes is a form of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes mellitus – often referred to as just diabetes – is the name given to the group of diseases that are diagnosed when defects in insulin secretion or insulin action become apparent in a patient’s blood sugar levels. Diabetes is diagnosed when the body either stops producing insulin correctly or becomes resistant to its effects. Insulin is responsible for taking glucose from the blood so it can be converted into energy.
Unlike other forms of diabetes, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The body attacks the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas, destroying the ability to naturally produce the insulin needed to help control blood sugar levels and keep a person healthy. While nobody is sure what triggers type 1 diabetes, referring to it as “juvenile diabetes” is considered wrong now, as more adults are being diagnosed every day. Still, only 10% of diabetes mellitus sufferers have type 1 diabetes; type 2 and gestational diabetes are much more common.
Symptoms Of Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes has distinctive symptoms. Increased thirst and frequent urination occurs when an excess of blood sugar builds up in the bloodstream. The fluid goes out from your tissue which makes you thirsty for water because your tissue loses fluid. You drink more, so you also urinate more. You feel like eating something too. Because insulin is no longer able to move sugar into your body’s cells, your body becomes depleted of energy and it triggers extreme hunger. Fatigue occurs as well. Weight loss may also occur – because your cells aren’t getting any new energy from insulin, they pull it from your fat reserves. And lastly, blurred vision occurs because fluid gets pulled from all the tissues in your body – even the lenses of your eyes, making it hard for them to focus properly.
Treatment For Type 1 Diabetes
This is currently no cure for type 1 diabetes, although research is being done. It’s a lifelong disease that must be carefully managed so that you can avoid diabetes-related strokes or heart attacks. Like all types of diabetes, controlling blood sugar level is the key to keeping healthy. You have to watch what foods you eat – food has the biggest effect on blood sugar levels. Physical activity affects your blood sugar level as well. Medication, illness, hormones and stress all have to be monitored carefully. You will also have to give yourself insulin shots to help maintain a good blood sugar level.
Type 1 Diabetes: Have Hope
While it’s true that once you are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes you will have it for the rest of your life, it is one of the more manageable diseases out there. Once you get the hang of watching your blood sugar levels, it becomes a whole lot easier to live with. Remember it’s not the end of the world – you’ll be able to manage it and live a full, happy life.